Floor mosaic with Emperor’s name unearthed

Archaeologists unearthed a 1500-year-old floor mosaic in the walled Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. The mosaic bears the names of Byzantine Emperor Justinian and a senior Orthodox priest named Constantine.

The floor mosaic (by Assaf Peretz & Israel Antiquities Authority)

According to the researchers, the inscription in Greek is dated to 500/551 AD and commemorates the founding of a building thought to be a hostel for pilgrims near the city’s Damascus Gate. The orthodox priest Constantine was its founder and the abbot of the Nea Church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Built in 543 AD it was the largest church in Jerusalem. The mosaic was found about a metre below the present street level during a routine exploratory dig ahead of the arrival of workers to lay communications cables.

Mosaic as found on site (by Assaf Peretz & Israel Antiquities Authority)

The mosaic measures 1.14 metre on its longer side. It reads: In the time of our most pious emperor Flavius Justinian, also this entire building Constantine the most God-loving priest and abbot, established and raised, in the 14th indiction. “Indiction” was an ancient method of counting years, for taxation purposes. Emperor Flavius Justinian was one the most important rulers of the Byzantine period. Under his reign, the eastern Roman empire was at its strongest, and its conversion to Christianity was completed.  The abbot of the Nea Church was Constantine. Remains of this building were partially excavated in 1970, in the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Archaeologists tending to the mosaic (by Assaf Peretz & Israel Antiquities Authority)

(after PhysOrg, Jewish Press, Assaf Peretz & Israel Antiquities Authority)

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